Category Archives: Gaming

Video Games, RPGs like D&D, Other MMOs

The Legend of Final Fantasy XV: A Post-Mortem

So with the recent announcement of 75% of the “Season 2” DLC being canceled, and Tabata’s departure from Square Enix, I feel that it’s time to finally put a cap on the somewhat infamous entry in the Final Fantasy series.  From its somewhat rocky and overly long development, to its reception and the follow up patches and DLC, it’s been a heck of a ride for Noctis and the boys.  One that I personally have enjoyed but has also generating an overwhelming amount of spite and anger in the fan base as well.  Maybe not as much as Final Fantasy XIII did, but it would not be wrong to call XV a base breaker.

This probably has a lot more to do with how the game was developed than what it actually ended up being. Announced in 2006 as a side game to Final Fantasy XIII titled “Final Fantasy Versus XIII” (Along with Final Fantasy Agito XIII which eventually became Type-0), the project was set up to be developed by the Kingdom Hearts team and headed by Tetsuya Nomura – a figure of near legendary status in the Square Enix pantheon to some, and a bit of a hack to others… my personal opinion of the man’s work lies somewhere in the middle to be honest.  The game would be an action rpg in the style of Kingdom Hearts, and would feature a myriad of weapons, the ability to comandeer and control vehicles, and a plot line revolving around Noctis and then Stella’s ability to see the dead leaving this world.  This would all be wrapped up in parts of the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology – mostly the aspect of Etro who was repeatedly a major figure in the teasers and the logo art.

News of Versus XIII’s development for the next seven years would be scattering bits here and there.  Even as XIII-2 and Lightning Returns were delivered, word on Versus was sparse.  Heck, while the game was announced in 2006, not a single video or screenshot of actually gameplay would be shown until 2009’s Tokyo Game Show.  This was immediately followed by the next year, four years post announcement, that the team was starting from scratch because the game Nomura wished to develop could no longer work within the constraints of the Crystal Engine developed for the Fabula Nova Crystallis – they would develop their own game engine for Versus XIII dubbed “Luminous Studio”.

In 2012, Square Enix appointed Hajime Tabata and his team that developed Type-0 to start working on a prototype of the next mainline game in the Final Fantasy series (XV) for next generation hardware.  During this time and troubled by the lack of smooth development on Versus XIII after six years, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada contacted Tabata and asked him what his thoughts on Versus XIII and whether the project could be salvaged or just canceled. Tabata stated it could be salvaged, but the development could not be continued in the same way it had been up to that point.  Square Enix then appointed Tabata and his team from Type-0 to help finish Versus XIII, a decision that most of Tabata’s team was resistant to at first (reports stated that 90% of the team was against the idea at first).  This brought the Versus XIII to over 200 people, made Tabata the co-director on the game, and began the work of folding the already done work on Versus XIII into the next mainline Final Fantasy.

Tabata stated in interviews that at the time he and his team had joined the project, after six years of work and many promised concepts from Nomura, the game was only 25% complete.  As part of the reworking to finish the project, many of the concepts that Nomura had planned from the initial concept pitch and announcement back in 2006 such as the character Stella and character switching in combat were axed to help streamline the development, the story was altered to follow closer to the original scenario written back in 2006 by Kazushige Nojima – the original creator of the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology and former Square Enix scenario writer (including VII, VIII, X, and X-2) – which would focus on the themes of “Journey” and “Comradery”.  Even with all these changes, Square Enix did state that their intent was to try and preserve what work had been done thus far, and Tabata and Nomura would work together to maintain the games direction and principal characters like Noctis would remain true to what Nomura wanted to achieve.

In 2013, it was formally announced that Versus XIII was set to become the new Final Fantasy XV. In December of that year, Nomura would depart the project to go work on Kingdom Hearts III and leave Tabata as the sole director of the game. Reports of a lot of internal struggle in the studio followed, with Tabata drastically rearranging the teams and the leadership on the project. However, reports from inside Square Enix that despite initial struggles, most of the changes and streamlining reinvigorated the team, and by the next year Tabata was reporting that the game was nearing 50%-60% completion.

From 2014 to 2016, the game released more and more in-game footage, put out two separate demos that showed off the scope and capabilities of the Luminous Studio engine, and announced the expanded “Final Fantasy XV Universe” project that would include a film, an animated series, mobile games and a spin-off VR game (eventually revealed to be a fishing simulator).

Finally, in November of 2016 – Final Fantasy XV was released.  The reaction was a resounding “Eeeeh. It’s okay?”

It’s hard to say exactly what generated that reaction. It was probably a myriad of reasons across the fan base.  From the long development cycle generating expectations, to the staff shake ups leading to conspiracy theories about good the game would have been if Tabata hadn’t “stolen” it from Nomura (Ignoring the fact that in all likeliness, Wada would have just canceled the game had Tabata not stepped in to get things back on track).  If you look up complaint threads across the internet, you’ll find endless different reasons why people didn’t enjoy the game.

To me, it just feels like there wasn’t going to be a “good” solution here.  There was no way this game was going to be able to deliver on everything that had been built up over 10 years of teases, and ideas, and concepts.  It didn’t help that after the massive backlash to the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, and the small splash Type-0 had on Sony’s dwindling handheld market, that many fans were hailing Versus XIII to be the saving throw of the entire Fabula Nova Crystallis project and when your savior turns out just to be another game…  well, I think ‘letdown’ is putting it kindly.

Overall, I personally loved Final Fantasy XV.  I enjoyed how the story was deceptively simple by calling back to the original Final Fantasy’s Warriors of Light idea and traveling the world on a quest to gain celestial blessings and power to stop a great evil with a Machiavellian plan. The game honestly felt like it was trying to tie back the modern Final Fantasy games with the old ones in a joining of hands across generations.  I loved how you got to know these four characters in and out, and felt emotionally part of the squad as they went through these ordeals.  I enjoyed the subtle implied storytelling and world building over the blunt brute force exposition dumps that you had in some of the previous games.  The fact that Noctis and his friends really had no clue what their actual destiny was and only Lunafreya and King Regis were playing a big gambit with the whole thing to stop the Darkness.

That being said, it wasn’t a perfect game by any means.  There was a lot of bits that felt like they had the right idea but they didn’t do enough with, or certain story elements were confusing (not helped in part of the fact that Noctis & Co. were kept in the dark about what was ACTUALLY going on in the story until the end).  I won’t argue that those who complained didn’t have plenty of valid reasons to do so.  The game was just simply average at best.  Honestly, given the utter development hell that the game went through to get to release, part of me is shocked that it came out to even be average.  There are parts to like and dislike and mostly what works and doesn’t is going to come down to personal taste.

Part of me just really wanted to look back at the facts of what happened to create this game because there has been so much speculation and so many armchair developers waxing on the topic that I think that the facts can often get lost.  What could have happened instead?  Well, Versus XIII would likely have been canceled as Wada seemed to be leaning that way when he spoke to Tabata, Tabata was slated to work on the next mainline game regardless of whether they absorbed Versus XIII or not, and Nomura would have gone back to finish Kingdom Hearts III.  Would that have been better?  I don’t know!  There’s no telling if Tabata starting from scratch instead of trying to salvage Versus XIII would have resulted in a better game.

Following the initial wave of mixed press, Tabata and his team set out to work on fixing a number of issues people had with the game, including technical problems, frustrations with certain areas (This included the either maligned or beloved Chapter XIII which seemed to fall heavily on how much you read into it.  Funny now given the applause for realism on how slow and tedious RDR2 can be nowadays.) and further exploring some characters motivations and backstories.  This was in addition to the already planned season of DLC that the game was going to have featuring Episodes Gladiolus, Prompto and Ignis that each explored a point in the game where the characters were separated from Noctis in one way or another – clearly planned places for DLC. Any additional content created for the purpose of fixing the story (the revised Chapter 13, new Lunafreya bits, Chapter 13.5 with Gladio and Ignis), and additional Quality of Life fixes (Chapter select) were all released for free so that everyone could enjoy the fixes.

Looking back at how everything went down,  I still feel that XV was a solid game at launch.  The fixes and DLC certainly clarified and expanded on the core game, but were they vital to experience?  I didn’t think so.  I mean, I enjoyed it from start to finish and I beat the game within the first few weeks of release before all of the talk of “fixing” it really took off. The infamous Chapter 13 was a pretty cool experience when I played it, and as I mentioned before the plot was deceptively simple.  By that I mean, it looked like there was a lot more to it than there actually was. Which is impressive, and does take some skill in my opinion to give that impression.

So with now the whole thing done with the exception of Episode Ardyn due out in March, what is there left to say?  Final Fantasy XV was a risky venture no matter how you sliced it.  I dunno.  In the end it’s just up to each of us whether or not it was worth it.  But I wanted to create a look back at what happened not based on speculation or rumor, but everything I could dig up that was reported from interviews, articles, etc. There’s a lot of “Tabata ruined it” or “Nomura couldn’t hack it” talk on the internet and I just wanted to just look at the facts and evaluate what all this was from that.

This was an enjoyable experience.  Final Fantasy XV for good and for ill was something I enjoyed playing.  I don’t regret the money I spent.  I don’t think we were robbed of a different game when the other game was barely even started when all this went down.  I don’t think badly of Nomura or Tabata.

It’s just a solemn end to a big extravagant project that left me kinda numb.  I wonder if I will feel the same in January when the Kingdom Hearts series finally comes to a close.  I guess we will wait and see, won’t we?

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Rise of the Pre-Pre-E3 Press Conference News

It’s getting to feel a lot like Christmas.  As in that gaming news keeps clawing its way earlier and earlier on the calendar.  Back when I was a kid, it was all about CES.  Then the gaming industry started its own show so it wouldn’t be lumped in with TVs and Camcorders called E3.  Then the REAL news started showing up before E3 at Press Conferences. Finally, here we are two weeks before E3 and the game industry is throwing out announcements and teasers like they were 8 month old spaghetti you found in some Tupperware in the back of the top shelf of the fridge that you can never see all the way unless you crouch down so you forget things back there a lot and oh hey we DID have butter!

Anyway, let’s get into it.

Fallout 76

What we know:  Fallout 76 is being developed by Bethesda Game Studios and Bethesda Game Studios Austin (Formerly BattleCry Studios).  We know its set in Vault 76, one of VaulTec’s “Control Vaults” that didn’t have any weird experiments and was set to open 25 years after the bombs fell – making this one of the earliest Fallout games chronologically.  We know that Bethesda Austin has experience with multiplayer (they assisted Id Software with making Doom 2016’s multiplayer mode) and we know that they were hiring people with Free-to-Play/Micro-transaction game experience.

What We Think:  My money is on some kind of squad based multiplayer game that are all the rage with developers right now (From what I can tell, the public isn’t really biting) – probably to compete with EA’s Anthem and Activision’s Destiny.  No clue how required the multiplayer aspect will be for the game, but you can bet that micro-transactions will be involved.  The game will probably center around venturing out of the vaults and trying to stake a claim in the post-apocalyptic world, establishing the earliest settlements in the wastes, etc.

I also wouldn’t be shocked if there was some PvP elements to this, since then Bethesda can recycle the canceled BattleCry game with its 5v5 squad based combat as some level of return on investment.

Pokemon: Let’s Go Pikachu/Eevee

What We Know: Pokemon’s first major outing on the Switch is a return to basics with a semi-reboot of the original Red/Blue games updated with new mechanics.  Everything from Team Rocket to Mewtwo was shown in the trailer as well as being a return to “Your First Adventure” in the Kanto Region.

However, this time you have a shoulder-riding pal in Pikachu or Eevee that can be dressed up and played with.  The wild pokemon catching mechanic seems to built on the Pokemon Go mobile app’s core mechanics rather than battling but battling with your pokemon is still a thing with other trainers.

There will be additional functionality between Pokemon Go and Pokemon Let’s Go where you will be able to send Pokemon back and forth from the two games (depicted as being possibly temporary or in a minor way – it was shown being imported into a “Go Park” in the trailer).

The game will have a multiplayer component.  The game only uses a single joycon to play, so if someone hops on using the the second joycon, you will have a second player join you in the game.  It appears you’ll be able to try and catch pokemon together with properly timed ball tosses giving some kind of special bonus perhaps.

Finally, there will be a ‘substitute’ joycon in the form of the Pokeball Plus – a pokeball with a joystick/button at its center.  Meaning the the mechanics to play the game can likely be distilled into a joystick to move, a button to interact, and motion controls to throw balls.  The Pokeball Plus can also store an ‘uploaded’ pokemon that you can take with you.  Unsure if its ANY pokemon or just Pikachu/Eevee.

What We Think:  In terms of a first outing on a new console?  I think this is a great idea.  It combines the already popular Pokemon Go app with the traditional pokemon experience,  it takes full advantage of everything that the Switch can offer a game (Multiplayer with multiple joycons, motion controls, etc.), and gives a fresher update on the original Kanto games (Let’s be honest, LeafGreen and FireRed didn’t bring a ton of ‘new’ to the table beyond using the Ruby/Sapphire game engine and allowing you to trade to old pokemon to the newer games).

For those who were hoping for a more tradiitonal Pokemon experience, Nintendo was nice enough to make mention that another ‘brand new’ Pokemon game was slated for 2019.  I however will be VERY happy with this one in the meantime.  It looks fun and has a lot of fresh new ideas to play with.  I do want to dress Eevee up as a mad scientist.

Pokemon Quest

What We Know:  Don’t care.

What We Think:  Really don’t care.

Vry Plays: Fable Anniversary (Part 1)

After some technical issues, Vry finally dives into the world of Albion and explores the horrific backstory of classes, tests, and a schoolyard rival… Oh! And your family dies. Check out Vrykerion and the Land of Odd every 2nd and 4th Wednesday live at 7pm MST on https://www.twitch.tv/vrykerion

On Being ‘The Other’: Thoughts on the Witcher Series

I’ve commented before here and there about ‘The Witcher’, the blockbuster game franchise developed by gamer darling CD Projekt Red.  It’s a game series that I have tried time and time again to sit down and play and I just never felt invested in compared to games like Final Fantasy, the Dragon Age series, or even the Fable games.  And it usually always boils down to me sitting there and asking myself why?  Why are these games so difficult for me to immerse myself into and enjoy?  When by all critical and gamer opinions they are superior to all three of the aforementioned franchises?

It’s not that I think that they are bad games.  In fact, the one place I would compliment them above all else is in their gameplay design – especially the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt which is often cited as one of the few games to do ‘Open World’ right.  And while I honestly felt many of the side quests in Wild Hunt were tedious and dragged on for far too long (I know we all are supposed to hate ‘fetch quests’ but going to fetch some milk doesn’t need to be turned into the Lord of the Rings either.)  Though I will note that the combat can sometimes feel overwhelming in the number of options for the short span of time you are given to utilize them that I tend to just end up smacking things with the wrong sword until they die.  I can honestly say that the gameplay is solid and enjoyable and quite often trims the fat from superfluous busy work.

The story itself was the next point that I thought about.  It’s not lacking in any way, far from it.  In many ways it often feels like there’s too much to take in.  Rich histories that you are merely gleaming the edges of as you partake in your focused quest.  I know the game series was based on a much larger series of novels, and it shows in the fact that characters often regard each in familiar ways even though you only being introduced to them.  It honestly had me wishing for a codex of some sort like in Mass Effect or even Final Fantasy XIII that I could refer back to.  While the game has something similar, it’s less a datalog or codex and more of a “there are tons of books lying around” and much like the Elder Scrolls, you might stumble upon a book explaining the rich backstory, or maybe just a recipe for cheese soup.  Who knows?  The setting was honestly probably the hardest swallow for me.  It’s just such a depressing world.  Death, disease, monsters, bitter hatred, murder, backstabbing, and of course a lot of war – these are the back bones of the Witcher world.  It’s not a happy place nor time to live in.  But it’s not like I haven’t played in settings that were bleak before.  Mass Effect 3 was literally the apocalypse and starts with you watching as thousands perish on your home world.  You watch world after world die, and things go from bad to worse and then discover it was all because an AI figured a periodic galactic extinction would be the simplest way to solve the problem it was given millions of years ago.  THAT’S bleak.  So what was it?  What have I not looked at?  Well,  there’s always Geralt.

Yes, Geralt of Rivia.  The titular Witcher of the series.  Who – no matter how much you choose the ‘nice’ or ‘good’ dialogue options – will remain a steadfast asshole in the cutscenes.  But I’ve played assholes before.  I’ve played characters that are even worse than Geralt in that area *side eyes my Sith Inquisitor* but I think we are close.  In fact, I don’t think it’s so much that Geralt is a jerk that it is WHY he’s a jerk.  I mean, wouldn’t you be a jerk if everyone hated you for pretty much no reason?

Yeah.  And here’s the crux of where the plot, the setting, and the characters all intersect to create the real reason that I just can’t enjoy the Witcher games:  Everyone hates you.  It doesn’t matter how many good deeds you do in the game, and how many individuals you win over to your side, in the end there is a societal hatred of Witchers.  Not just Geralt – though his reputation as “The Butcher of Blaviken” doesn’t help – but all Witchers are regarded in mass as being soulless blood-thirsty mercenary monsters that should only be interacted with if you have to.  There’s no changing that.  Oh you can choose the good options and decide to not take money from the people, but the next person you talk to will be back to the same old prejudices.  Even worse, it doesn’t change when you go to a different location.  This stereotype that you have no choice but to endure over and over with the sole exception of spending time in Kaer Morhen with the few other Witchers in your neighborhood.

And I know some are reading this right now and wondering if I’m saying all this with this particular phrasing to build up to some manner of a political point about the real world.  While I won’t deny that there is definitely meat on those bones that can be picked on for some interesting thought, I don’t believe I am the one to do it.  I don’t have the tongue for such impassioned speaking and I have a foot far too eager to slip into my mouth at times.  So I will leave it at that.

That said, that is truly the core of why I can’t get into these games.  Because I don’t find pleasure in playing through a world, fighting for a world, that actively and quite universally hates me for no reason.  It’s why despite all the claims in the world that the Witcher 3 is a superior game to Dragon Age: Inquisition, I will be playing my eighth playthrough of DA:I before even finishing one of the Witcher 3.  I’m not saying that the Witcher 3 is a bad game.  Or that it’s bad writing.  Or bad anything really.  It’s just…  not the right fit for me.  As a question I’ve had percolating in the back of my mind for years now, I figured I’d share the results of my thoughts.  Thanks for the read.

Welcome to the (Live) Show!

I apologize for being quiet around here lately.  Between my real job picking up with a big new project and my own little side adventure I’ll be getting into in the moment, I haven’t had a lot of time to post.  It happens.  But hey, that’s just the bad news.  The good news is you’ll have a chance to see a lot more of me coming soon if you enjoy my trademark wit, dry observations, and eccentric ramblings.

We are going live on Twitch!

Previously I had been testing the waters out with the Premiere system – kind of like YouTube videos on Twitch but with the videos premiering “Live” at a set point before being added to an archive.  Now the current plan is still to do those, but augment it with nights where I’ll be broadcasting games live.  The premieres will be used for migrating my YouTube archive over to Twitch, weeks were I know I won’t be available, or for videos I need to do more post-production work on like the Sims 4 videos where I have overlays showing how much money I have and how far into my challenge I am.  That in mind, my Twitch Schedule both here and on my Twitch page will make note of when a broadcast is Live or a Premiere.

The schedule is still remaining a static every 2nd and 4th wednesday at 6pm PST.  If you’re interested, you can always go and give me a follow on Twitch.  It doesn’t cost anything (that’s ‘Subscribing’) and you can set it up to let you know when I go live with a broadcast.

The reason this has taken so long is that well, I’m a stickler for appearance.  Regardless of whether its a source of income or not, I work hard to make the visuals and flow of this website something that’s at least aesthetically pleasing to me.  I like it when I can present myself in a way that I am happy with and not just with some default slapdash thing.  So I have been working on developing overlays for my Stream – at least enough to start with, some functions are still defaults with some customization tossed in.  I’ve been building up a theme, getting music, setting up software…  I just want to be able to display something I’m proud of.

From the visuals to the text, we’re going full Carnie on this one.

After the liveshows on Twitch, they’ll be uploaded to YouTube some time within the following week and likewise posted here when they do.  So just because you miss out on the live part, doesn’t mean you’ll have to miss out completely.

I would like to thank everyone on here, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr for their support in this endeavor.  It’s not a full time thing, it’s not even a replacement for this blog, but it is the most important thing – something I have fun doing.  As always, if you have comments, suggestions or even constructive criticisms I always happily welcome them.

The 12 in 12 Experiment: Failed(?)

Last year, I proposed a simple goal for myself.  To produce 12 YouTube videos for this site in 12 months.  I dubbed it the 12-in-12 goal.  I figured that it would be a simple enough goal.  That’s one video a month.  With a goal of one year, so if I fell behind or had technical issues, I had wiggle room to recover.

However, despite my attempts to do so, I only managed to produce 4 videos.  The next four episodes of the Sims 4 Shakespeare Monkey Challenge.  (They have managed to actually make some progress finally it seems. Though it occurred to me that 365 days in the Sims 4 is a lot more than a year.  It’s more along the line of 4.5 lifetimes. Had to readjust some of that math or they ALL would die of old age.)  And while I had planned some additional fun videos, including one of the worst RPGs I ever found on Steam and some horror games for the Fall, things just kind of never came together.

Partially because the second half of the year was a maelstrom of stressful events in my real life.  For instance, I got married.  I went on my honeymoon.  My spouse and I were both battling severe depression amidst these happy events brought on by stress and other factors.  It was a crazy second half of the year – crazier than I even expected.  Like, did you know planning a wedding kind of sucks?  Yeah. Me neither.

Overall, I can’t shrug responsibility. I set forth a goal for myself and I failed to meet it.  I’d be more upset about that but its not like I have any amount of internet cred or even financial stability riding on this.  I don’t make money from this blog, I don’t monetize my YouTube videos – they are all things I do for fun.  Because I do come up with weird things to say and feel like sharing it for a chuckle or two.

With that spirit in my mind, I have decided to give it all another go.  12-in-12-in-2018 or some such.  Going to try to do the whole 1 video a month.  And hopefully no chaos, or trips to Walt Disney World, or happiest days of my life will get in the way this time.

Please look forward to it!  And if you ever have any suggestions for games to play, or topics you’d like to see me cover, please let me know!  I’m on twitter, tumblr, or just here on a comment.  I read pretty much everything people send to me.  (So many heartwarming comments of people who enjoy my fun little blog here!)

D20 Style Combat in RPG Maker

Something I’ve often toyed with aside from my own game FateStone was the idea of re-creating a Dungeons & Dragons campaign in something like RPG Maker.  Seems easy right? You’ve got dungeons, monsters, characters all there and ready to go!  However, the big hurdle is quite simply that the way combat works does not overlap. Like at all.  RPG Maker’s combat calculations are more inspired by Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest than anything you’d find in a Pen & Paper RPG tome. So I recently put my mind to work on figuring out how exactly you would be able to bring a d20 or D&D Style of combat to a RPG Maker game.

Now take in mind that this is a very basic version of what I started working with.  While I have started working on versions to incorporate all the different D&D ability scores, I haven’t hammered out all the nitty gritty of using them.  So for now I strictly went for Attack Roll (Attack) vs AC (Defense) and Spell Attack (Magic Attack) vs Saving Throw (Magic Defense).

 

First is the dice roll:

1dX = Math.randomInt(X)+1

YdX = Math.randomInt((X*Y), Y) + 1

For the YdX formula, it’s important to note that you’ll be setting the range of the random numbers, when it says X*Y you should replace that with the actual value of X * Y.  In other words, for 3d6 don’t put (6 * 3) just put (18).  These formulas will be used for everything from determining the attack to the damage, so they are pretty much the cornerstone of this whole thing.  But another important one would be how to you get the Ability Modifier from the Ability Score.  For that you’ll want to use the following calculation:

Math.Floor((A – 10)/2) = M

A = Ability Score.  M = Ability Modifier.

In simple terms, you subtract 10 from the Score, divide that by 2 and round down (because you always round down in D&D) and that will give you the modifier.  So an Attack (Strength) of 14 would result in a modifier of 2.

So how would this work for an actual skill?  Well, let’s take a look at one.  First, you’ll want to set the Skill in RPG Maker to be a ‘Certain Hit’.  We are just going to skip the whole Accuracy/Evade cycle of the attack in favor of our own math.  Then our damage formula will look something like this:

If (b.def <= (Math.randomInt(20) + 1 + (Math.Floor((a.atk – 10)/2) + (Math.Floor(a.lvl / 2)) )) Math.random((X*Y), X) + 1 + (MOD – Math.Floor(a.level/2)); else 0

Kind of crazy, right?  Let’s break it down.

If (b.def <=: This First bit is essentially starting an ‘If-then’ clause that says if the following math results in something equal to or higher than our target’s defense (AC).

(Math.randomInt(20) + 1: This is our d20 roll.

+ (Math.Floor((a.atk – 10)/2): This is adding our attack modifier

+ (Math.Floor(a.lvl / 2)) )): This adds half our level to the math and finishes our If condition.  So it’s a random number between 1-20, plus the modifier, plus half our level.

Math.random((X*Y), X) + 1 + (Math.Floor((a.atk – 10)/2))This part is our damage calculation. Essentially, do this much damage (a random XdY dice amount) plus our Attack modifier damage.

else 0 And if the math DIDN’T equal or beat the Target’s Defense(AC), then deal zero damage due to it being a miss.

To summarize, the formula is basically:

If (Target AC) <= 1d20 + Attack Modifier + Half Level; Deal XdY + Attack Modifier damage; else deal no damage.

Naturally, you can probably imagine how this basic formula can be applied to a lot of different things.  It forms the basic idea for skill checks, saving throws, and pretty much any Difficulty Check based roll. You could replace the target defense with a d20 roll on the enemy side as well and have an opposed check.

As I said at the top, this isn’t perfect.  It doesn’t quite yet take into account D&D’s Ability Scores, which I’m still working on.  Mostly just stuck on thinking of a way to make the Target Defense side of things work when b.def would simply be their Constitution score or something.

If I ever figure out a good solution to it, I will let you know.

In the mean time, you might find the following plug ins for RPG Maker MV to be handy when it comes to recreating the D&D experience:

Yanfly’s Weapon Unleash: Allows you to reassign a different attack skill to different weapons, thus being able to give daggers a different damage formula than a great axe.

Yanfly’s Limited Skill Usages: For those interested in bringing D&D 4th Edition’s system of At-Will, Encounter and Daily abilities to the game, this plugin can help.  However, you might want to create a common event for sleeping that gets called when using an item like ‘Camping Set’ or something to reset the Daily uses.

Odd Thoughts: Reward Cubes

Be they Loot Boxes, Prize Crates or good ol’ fashion RNG Containers, there’s nothing quite like the topic of Reward Cubes to bring a heated boil to the gaming community at large.  Are they pay-to-win?  Are they gambling?  Do they belong in full price $60 games?  Do they belong in anything beyond Free-To-Play games?  Should they exist at all?

Recently, the controversy has boiled up a bit thanks to some rather ahem… enthusiastic reaches by companies like WB Interactive and Electronic Arts in their big fall titles (Shadows of War, Star Wars Battlefront 2) and I’ve heard that even the sports games have decided to dab their quills into the ink as well with the latest installment of 2K sportsball and Forza something or other.  I will admit, the practice has gotten admittedly scummier since my first encounter with the loot box scenario when they were added when Star Wars The Old Republic went debatably free to play (two hot bars, a 250k credit limit, and can’t equip any epic loot but hey it’s free to suffer through!)

Now you have loot boxes that are tied directly to player progression, offering new abilities and ability boosts in Battlefront 2 or simply being able to skip the grind and have a medley of legendary orcs spring forth from a chest like clowns from a car.  And yeah, that’s B.S.  I’m not even gonna sugar coat it.  Optional or not, cash should not be a way to skip the game you just paid sixty bucks for.  It definitely shouldn’t let you be able to quickly overpower players that don’t shell out for it.  I’m glad there seems to be at least a majority consensus on THAT at least.

Personally, the only way I’ve really “enjoyed” loot boxes – not that I’ve ever enjoyed them.  Put up with them? – was in games like Overwatch.  Where they don’t give you anything BUT random visual flair to add to the game.  And you earn them when you level up. Nice. But hey, then they went above and beyond and added ADDITIONAL ways to get free crates in the Arcade. So not only do you not have any tangible reason to get them beyond looking cool but they also keep giving you more ways to get them? Not a half bad model.  Still would like just ways to unlock the skins and whatnot on my own in the game maybe.  Not banking on random chance from a box every few hours.  Maybe some sort of unlock systems based on in-game achievements? You know like you already do with certain sprays?  Bah. Oh well.

Of course, there are still down sides to Overwatch’s model too. The whole thing is psychologically angled to make you want to spend.  You see someone with the cool thing? You want the cool thing. Better go pay money for a chance to get the cool thing.  A covetous model of persuasion is exactly what Activision’s recent patent for Microtransaction-based Matchmaking is built on. Instead of matching players on skill or win ratio, it finds the ‘Haves’ and then pairs them against the ‘Have Nots’ and then after you lose to their Cash Shop Super Weapon while donning their Ultra Rare Skin, you offer them the chance to get the same cool stuff from these handy dandy cubes o’ stuff we sell for real dollars.  Psychology is a dangerous weapon when paired with greed.

For no better example of psychology being used to line the pockets, look no further than gambling.  Oh, I hear the screams of forums back in TOR echoing through to the youtube comments of today of ‘It’s not gambling – you always get something!’  And that’s true. Sort of.  Loot crates are a weird legal loophole where since you always get something out of it, it’s not gambling. But you also always get nothing – nothing tangible with an attached dollar value that can resold – so it’s also not gambling.  HOWEVER, from a psychological standpoint and not a legal one, Reward Cubes are very much gambling.  They scratch that same itch, provoke the same reaction, and still drive you to swipe your credit card over and over chasing an elusive jackpot.  Heck, why else would the crazy Kylo Ren-style lightsabers be introduced as a new ultra-ultra-ultra rare platinum item in SWTOR?  It’s the hot new thing. It’s only comes from the cash-only loot boxes.  It’s got a 1-in-10,000 chance to drop! Didn’t get it in this box? That makes it MORE likely to be in the next, right? (Not how that works at all by the way.)

Loot boxes CAN be dangerously addicting to those with a pension for such habits.  And sure, there are non-loot box ways you could get it. Someone could sell theirs in the in-game market for in-game currency.  But that still means SOMEONE paid cash for it. And to be honest, I casually played SWTOR for years – played every class at least once if not twice or three times – and I STILL never made enough credits to buy one of those Kylo Ren sabers for what they were going for on the market.  Eventually just decided that was one thing I was never gonna end up getting. Like PvP achievements.

Overall, I think what I was going for with writing about this was that I’m used to seeing people take a very hard line stance on this issue. Understandable since it’s a very passionate issue.  But I don’t think there’s really a good hard line stance to take.  Loot boxes can be a fun addition to a game.  I do think Blizzard is getting a knack for what a good balance of what should be in the crate, how easy it should be to get free crates vs paid crates, and definitely figured out a good way to make them feel fun.  However, left unchecked the whole system begins to turn corrupt.  You see pay to win become an incentive to buy crates, you see things being designed to nudge players toward crates to speed up or skip parts of the game, and you see the effort being put in to continue to make more alluring jackpot items to drive that addictive quality in wanting to keep buying to get the best stuff.  Heck, I’ll even say that Overwatch could be improved.  They gave away loot boxes for Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone for Twitch Prime that had guaranteed rare items like legendaries or gold cards.  I’d love to see that sort of thing be added to the game as a reward for major achievements.  Get 100 wins? Get a gold box.  Unlocked all of a character’s achievements? Get a gold box.  Complete a limited time holiday quest? Get a gold box so you will at least get ONE of the legendary skins during the small holiday event windows.

I wanted to approach it all rationally.  I don’t think reward cubes are going anywhere.  I think that as the industry pushes more to perpetual monetization over pay-once-and-your-done tactics with games we need to start really critically thinking about where we as consumers feel comfortable drawing the line.  All or nothing approaches may be admirable, but so is throwing yourself on your sword and none of it accomplishes much.  There doesn’t have to be a universal approach either.  I want to encourage everyone to find their own personal line on the topic and then work with that.  Let that be a personal factor in your buying decisions.  It’s one of the reasons that despite looking amazing and fun, I didn’t buy into Battlefront or Battlefront 2.  It’s why I remain hesitant about Anthem.  It’s one of the major reasons I decided to stop playing SWTOR.

But I am not going to presume to tell you to do the same.  All I’m gonna ask is that you think about it.  Think about what you want and what you are comfortable with.

Heavensward Patch Story Summary Complete

For those who have been wondering about the “Coming Soon” story summaries for Heavensward’s patches (3.1 – 3.5), your wait is now over!  All of the story summaries for the Main Scenario Questline in Heavensward are now finished and posted on the Heavensward Story Summary page.

Unlike Heavensward where the decision to write the summaries came after finishing the 3.0 MSQ, I will be doing my best to keep notes on the plotlines of Stormblood as I play through it.  Hopefully to decrease the downtime before I am able to get the next batch of story summary for the newest expansion out since as it has come to my attention, some people have been using my summaries as a way of not just catching up on the narrative but also skipping the non-voiced cutscenes and reading what happens here.  Hey, if that’s how you want to play – go for it.  Not my fifteen bucks. But I figured I should TRY to not wait until the end of the expansion before posting the Stormblood summary.

The Quest For the Missing Pizza – The Sims 4 Shakespeare Monkey Challenge #8

So if your pizza takes 8 hours, and the delivery girl decides to bum your internet for a few hours… Should you still tip?

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